Student paper takes a summer break
By Kate Holden
If you’ve spent any amount of time on campus this summer you may have noticed the mysterious absence of the student newspaper, The Muse. But it’s not gone, it’s just a bit winded and thus is taking a short breather.
Summertime has always been rough for the Muse, according to Editor-in-Chief Kerri Breen. “It’s generally hard to get people to write in the summer,” she said. “Plus there are far less people on campus to read the Muse in the summertime, so advertisement sales (from which comes a large portion of Muse funding) drop significantly.”
After careful consideration Ms. Breen made a risky move and decided to try something new. Rather than taking the usual financial loss of the summer semester and struggling to find content and volunteers, the Muse has become on online-only paper for a few months.
But this was no hasty act. After extensive research, Ms. Breen found that the two dollars that the Muse receives from each student every semester is comparatively small; in fact it is the lowest received by any major university publication in Canada. So in March the Muse held a referendum.
Given their “chronic underfunding,” the Muse tried to change their financial situation. In collaboration with MUNSU elections, the Muse ran a referendum asking students if they would be willing to pay $2 more a semester. They thought it would be an easy win.
Unfortunately, voters did not see eye to eye with The Muse. They lost the referendum by 1,411 to 967. While this was a considerable shock and a disappointment for The Muse, staff began brainstorming about possible alternatives. And on the positive side, Ms. Breen said they did receive lots of feedback from students, such as concerns about the level of paper waste. They took these student suggestions and ran with them.
So, in the name of breaking even, The Muse hasn’t gone to print since the end of the winter semester. Instead they’ve focused their efforts on the new website.
However loyal Muse readers needn’t worry. The Muse will be back in all its glory in the fall. While going online makes good economic sense, Ms. Breen maintains that print is not dying as fast as some would think and The Muse has suffered some losses by not printing. The Muse has seen a downturn in volunteer writers because the perk of seeing your name in print is absent in an online paper. Muse readership is also likely down even more so than it usually would be in the summer, since it is somewhat less accessible.
While going online for good could lead to eventual extinction for the Muse, staying in print also poses many challenges, she said. The loss of the referendum added damaged moral to the list of obstacles for the Muse to overcome. Ms. Breen hopes to hold another referendum in the future since The Muse really needs this change to survive, but it will have to wait until the shock of this first loss has time to wear off.